As new COVID cases and deaths remain steady and governors begin to open up the next phases of “reentry” for citizens and businesses, one state has taken a huge leap in the right direction setting a precedent for other states.

On Monday, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued an executive order requiring all of Florida’s public K-12 schools to reopen in August, according to WTXL Tallahassee. As part of the executive order issued Monday, school districts and charter school governing boards must open physical school buildings to classes at least five days per week for all students in August.

The hot topic of debate has circled educational communities for the last few weeks as the beginning of July marks close to the middle of summer. School districts must provide “the full array of services that are required by law so that families who wish to educate their children in a brick and mortar school have the opportunity to do so.” The executive order states that the full array of services include in-person instruction, specialized instruction, and services for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and English-language learners.

“Upon reopening in August, all school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students, subject to advice and orders of the Florida Department of Health, local departments of health, Executive Order 20-149 and subsequent executive orders,” the order reads.

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Districts will also be required to monitor the progress of all students and report that data back to the education department regularly. The order also provides some extra support for remote-learning students. “Students who are receiving instruction through innovative teaching methods must be provided additional support and the opportunity to transition to another teaching method if they fail to make adequate progress,” the order reads.

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If the school district chooses to offer “innovative teaching methods,” they will be required to submit a reopening plan to the Florida Department of Education that fulfills the requirements. Districts that want to open “as usual” will not be required to submit a plan.

With many parents worried about allowing their children to return to the classroom, the executive order allows parents to have the ability to choose if the district makes those options available. However, the order requires school campuses to open regardless of what choices parents make.

The order is temporary and only applies to the upcoming fall semester.

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